21 July, 2006

Leadership: Choosing Leaders

I cannot pretend to speak on this subject with authority. Scripture gives guidelines on how to reject poor leaders, and some hints about finding good ones, but let's face it, there's really not much clear advice. In the end, the apostles themselves chose a leader by lots.

I will not advocate shooting craps for the position of elder, no matter how scriptural it might be. :-)

Indulge me as a recall the Familyhood Church in which I would have us choosing leaders.

I know that mine is not a popular vision, but I can see nothing less. I am tired of knowing that my neighborhood is filled with Christians whom I will probably never know well, and maybe never at all. There are mystics and theology buffs and evangelists and caring brothers and sisters living in walking distance, but I will never meet them because they drive across town to find fellowship with likeminded people. Do they forget that Paul told us all to likeminded, not merely to seek out those with whom we agree?

Mutually deciding to avoid one another does not count as likemindedness.

In my happy dreams, we are a neighborhood of believers of all stripes and we share our love for Christ together. There are some Calvinists, but not most. There are a couple of people who believe fringe things, but mostly we are all in the mainstream of common Christianity. Pentecostals, Baptists, and Presbyterians. We probably have a Catholic or two, and the Church of Christ seems to be well represented. ;-)

Without doing anything, we would spontaneously have some cool fellowship, if we could only be introduced. But a church is more than fellowship, and I want that "more" more than anything. The church is a kingdom that attacks the gates of hell. It is a bride who prepares herself for a joyous day. It is a body that nurses its own, and a garden that needs tending. The church is also the target of the common ravages of sin, the intentional attacks of men, and the assaults of our spiritual enemy.

None of those opportunities, responsibilities and cares will be improved spontaneously.

Leaders must overcome denial for any of those things to happen.

We will need to choose those leaders.

This could be hard.

My biggest fear is that we will choose those who have been successful in business. Ellen said it very well. (I quote from memory here on this airplane.) God didn't require leaders to successfully run a business, but a household.

Businessmen, and please forgive me here, are not the only people qualified to lead God's church. A board of elders composed of nothing but successful businessmen can be prone to miss the quiet call of the Spirit. We need a businessman or two leading our church, if only to make sure things get done, but we also need a whole diversity of leaders. We need some artists, some thinkers and some flamboyantly extroverted people too.

Of course, if we go out trying to fill our church leadership roles with a shopping list of personality types we will be disappointed at best and self-destructively misguided at worst. We need to open ourselves to leaders who don't look like typical elder-stock.

[Let me say a word about women in leadership before I go into how to identify a church's first leaders. Yes, I think women are called and ideally suited to fill some of those leadership roles. I don't think that is news to anyone. Let's talk about that another day, though. I really want to go through the verses that define the discussion, but I am not prepared and today my heart is with the church's need for leaders in general. Let's just say that I believe that men can fill all roles I will describe below and leave a placemarker for a discussion of whether women should also fill them another day.]

I would like to propose a simple test for who should be identified as leaders right off the bat in a new church.

Every house that has raised reputable children at least into their teens, and in which everyone feels comfortable, has a leader at its helm.

I won't belabor the point about having raised kids, and I don't consider it iron-clad, but you all know how I feel about it.

Let me belabor being comfortable in a leader's home just a little, though. The epistles refer to "the church that meets in ______'s house," and hospitality is a requirement of an elder. I think those things are great pointers. If everyone just loves coming over to someone's house, it's a good indicator that the whole family really cares about God's people.

Sometimes that person is going to be a businessman. Sometimes it's going to be a carpenter, or a cad designer or a salesman. That's cool. If the church is willing to call that person and that person is willing to respond, they will rise to the need. We have already decided that even an untrained, uncredentialled, inexperienced person with the call of God on his life is perfectly qualified to lead in the kingdom.

I say we should give them a chance. I think the church will be better for it.

FTR, I believe that ideally you should divide the number of households in the church by 5, and have about that many leaders. Every one of those leaders may not be a pastoral candidate, but they will all grow into the responsibility to keep their eyes open, and to care for the people nearest them.

---

Q: What about preaching? Who is going to preach?
A: Ideally, we would find out that we have all the skills that we need already in our neighborhood, but that's too optimistic. So, hire a preacher. I bet that we could find someone who would preach on the side for us. We don't need a "pastor," because some of our elders are definitely going to be shepherds.

Q: What about heresy? Who is going to keep us from falling into error?
A: Honestly, as long as we are not trying to conquer the world, we are not going to fall into grevious error. Error creeps in with pride and ambition, not with normal life. Error comes in when one Christian leader is trying to differentiate itself from all the rest and must find some new truth that nobody else has. "If we have something exciting and unique, then people will flock to us," is the idea. So, don't be unique! It's hard to decide to be normal, but that's where truth and safety lie. If a doctrine makes us too unique, and we are in doubt about it, then drop it. But, if we really are not sure, then I'm sure we can hire us a theologian, too.

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Thank you for bearing with me on this. When I started this leadership series, I really did not know how I would recommend that we pick leaders. I did know that this had to be the pinnacle of the discussion, but I didn't know what my answer might be. I'm really happy with where this ended up.

17 comments:

Milly said...

Codepoke,

I have found myself very much in agreement with you. Where I attend we have several different kinds of men leading, it’s a great thing because it makes us comfortable with at least one. I have hug out at one man’s house and love his family dearly.

You’re starting to convince me. ;-} Move to Oklahoma. Actually I could see myself involved but to leave my church, not yet. I love it.

Good job on this one. I’d love to see it in my neighborhood.

codepoke said...

Thanks, Milly.

It looks like this wins the award for least controversial post of the series. :-)

Danny Kaye said...

Fellowship with people in my neighborhood who love God regardless of doctrine? I would absolutley love it!

I may not be able to see eye to eye on some things, and might find it very difficult to study the Bible with a non-Christian in order to convert him. But I have learned a ton from those of other denominations. And I would like to think that I have edified their lives in some way too.

I don't see any need for leadership in this area, though. It's just a bunch of folks who love God wantin' to hang out.

OK...I'll say something controversial.
I would have a hard time calling the group of neighbors a "Church." You know my convictions about people being saved at baptism. Emotionally, I want to swing your way. But doctrinally, I just can't get over there.

This might be the most controversial thing I will say in a long time, but I do not believe that even Jesus could successfully lead a group that consisted of CoCs, Baptists, Petacostals, Catholics, Christian Scientists, Christian Universalists,...etc.

Picture it: Jesus says, "Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and tht Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Can you imagine the arguments that would ensue while a CoC-er and a Pentacostal-er tried to study the Bible with a non-Christian.

CoC-er: "You need to be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins."

Pent-er: "No he doesn't" No you don't. You just have to come on over to this here corner and pray for the feeling to come upon you."

CoC-er: "That's not true. No! Don't do it that way. You must be born of water and the Spirit." You must be baptized to recieve the Holy Spirit."

Pent-er: "That's not what that scripture means. It means..."

CoC-er: "I'm going to go get Jesus. He'll tell you I'm right."

No leader or group of leaders would be able to cut through all of that. Not even Jesus because, first of all, He isn't down here to tell you that I am right. ;-)
And second of all, He didn't teach such an "anything goes" Christianity.

I love the idea of neighborhood fellowship and Bible discussion. But I just wouldn't be able to call it a "Church."

codepoke said...

Thanks Danny and Milly,

I feel like this brings me back to the heart of why I started blogging in the first place. I really appreciate you questioning the idea of church in a neighborhood, Danny Kaye.

Your What If about Jesus leading a church made up across denominations is brilliant. I am going to fall back on Jesus' promise that if we abide in Him we will do greater things than He did. I have lived in a church just like you describe, and I have seen it work. I've seen it fail, too, but this can happen.

...No leader or group of leaders would be able to cut through all of that....

Been there, done that. We cut through it, and moved forward in the Lord. It takes a real commitment to Philippians, but Philippians is a great book to commit to.

I love the idea of neighborhood fellowship and Bible discussion. But I just wouldn't be able to call it a "Church."

And here we come to the heart of the matter. I agree with you more than you do. Your conclusion is based on tradition, though, not on the scripture. Until the third century every church was a neighborhood church, made up of households and meeting in homes. "The church that meets in _____'s home" is all over the new testament.

I agree, though, that a bible study with some fellowship is not the church. If that's all that happens in that neighborhood, then it ain't a church. The church has as many dimensions as any wife, and trying to call a bible study a church is a shame. Of course, trying to call a thrice weekly bible study in a really expensive building a church is every bit as shameful. Hence, I agree with you and then some. I cannot call your projected neighborhood fellowship a church, but I cannot call the thing you call a church a church, either!

Until we have a way to live 100% lives with each other, and to share a fully rounded love for Christ together we are not going to be able to call anything we do church.

Milly said...

1. I’ve always felt the church is within us so I could call it a church.

B. Danny Kaye wasn’t this you sir?

I may not be able to see eye to eye on some things, and might find it very difficult to study the Bible with a non-Christian in order to convert him.

You might be missing a been there done that gift.

2. The very idea that Jesus would be unable to lead is staggering to me and yet a sad truth. When He was on this earth as a human we hadn’t put up all those signs and buildings. No we have lines and practices we toss scripture about. Could you see someone face to face with Him quoting it. As preposterous as that sounds it would probably happen in these times.

A. This is a great idea and an interesting discussion. Play on.

codepoke said...

Milly,

When He was on this earth as a human we hadn’t put up all those signs and buildings.

Woooot!

Great point, and great line! Well said, Milly. :-D

Milly said...

It's so true and at times we are chained to those buildings.

Danny Kaye said...

"I am going to fall back on Jesus' promise that if we abide in Him we will do greater things than He did."

This is where I get to feel like the outcast. I feel like Rudolph or Hermie, over here! Remember the song?
"Why am I such a misfit. I am not just a nitwit...etc."


For those of y'all who do not believe that a persons sins are forgiven at baptism, then what you are describing is just fine. Even I can now see past many doctrinal areas which might have been a stumbling block to me before. But I would venture a guess that the ministry you were a part of whose members had many differences in doctrinal beliefs, there were none that believed that you must be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins in order to recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit.

You see, there must be at least this one fundamental value in common with one another in order to make it work...even if that fundamental value is "You don't have to be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins."

So, henceforth, you shall call me Hermie, the misfit.
(But remember, they all swung Hermie's was in the end!)
MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

Maeghan said...

I know I am always a late-comer in commenting but I am going to have a go at it anyway :)

the apostles themselves chose a leader by lots.
Interesting, reminds me of the Urim and Thurrim as well. Why did they have to resort to chance and why aren't we? I gotta get this checked out.

Indulge me as a recall the Familyhood Church in which I would have us choosing leaders.
I am always the uniformed (my euphemism for being ignorant :) :)
is there anything I need to know about Familyhood Church other than the fact that it is your blog's name?

fellowship with likeminded people
In the short-term, this may be fine but in the long run, we still need to open up to the others no matter how different we are but with the ability to listen and respect and most importantly when to shut up.

God didn't require leaders to successfully run a business, but a household.
Excellent quote!

God bless,
Maeghan

codepoke said...

Sorry, DK. The Hermie stuff is lost on me, but I get the picture. :-)

You see, there must be at least this one fundamental value in common with one another in order to make it work

This is important stuff, Danny Kaye.

Let me tell you how my standard has changed over the years. I used to believe that there were certain doctrines that had to have right before I could fellowship with you. Anti-Calvinism was on a par for me with your baptism doctrines. When I was a staunch anti-Calvinist, I could never have fellowshipped with one of those heretics. Codepoke 1979 could not have fellowshipped with codepoke 1984. (I was a much more abrasive Calvinist in 1984 than I am today.)

That was wrong. I knew the Lord a little better in 1984 than in 1979, but those two people were both in love with the same Lord. They should never have had a problem with each other. I now ask myself whether I could know and love the Lord while believing what "you" believe.

Let's take the COC stand for baptismal remission as the example, that you must be baptised to be forgiven of your sins and therefore you must be baptised to be saved.

It was as early as 1978 that I was first taught that baptismal remission was heretical, and that COC was a legalistic sect [forgive me - I was young :-(]. In 1978 I would only have fellowshipped with you "guardedly." I would have watched for the health of my soul every time you opened your mouth. There would have been no joy, and we both would have been the poorer.

Today, I look at your arguments for baptismal remission, and I look at your priorities due to this belief very differently. I ask myself whether, if I deeply loved the Lord, I could see the scriptures the way you see them. Yes, I could. I don't, but I could. And if I did, I would have to stand where you are standing.

But that is not good enough for fellowship.

We need more if we are going to be in a church together.

It was during my experience in that little home church that I learned what the next step was.

Not only do I have to know that I could believe what you believe, but that the Spirit has brought you to the place where you are and me to the place where I am. I once believed that your baptismal remission doctrine was heretical. I still believe that it is an error, I just believe that the Lord has brought you to it. You have come to your doctrines because the Lord has taken you to them.

So, I actively believe that God Himself has brought you into error? Yes. And I believe that He has brought me into error, too. I know that I have more corrections to make to my own beliefs before this trip is over. Heck. I might even need to accept baptismal remission before I curl my toes and keel over. :-)

Why would God lead us into error?

OK. I will back off from that overstatement - but not much. God brings us into relationship with people, whether those people are holding some errors or not. I was brought into relationship with people who loved the Lord and who knew that Calvinists were heretics. I profited from my relationships with those people. They all drifted out of my life, but other anti-Calvinists have drifted in and I keep profiting from ya'll.

Doctrine matters. I am happier as a Calvinist than I was as an Arminian. My praise is richer, and my walk is straighter. And if the Lord backs me off from Calvinism, my praise will be richer still and my walk yet straighter. And if the Lord moves me into baptismal remission, I will go there with a smile.

If you honestly believe that I cannot love the Lord and weigh in against baptismal remission, then you will have to fellowship with me guardedly. And that is no fun for either of us. If, however, you believe that I can love the same Lord you do and every bit as much, then we can be part of a church together. Then it just becomes a matter of defining boundaries we both can live with. Once our problems are reduced to defining boundaries, we can make it.

We just need to choose good leaders. :-P

codepoke said...

Hermie,

(But remember, they all swung Hermie's way in the end!)
MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!


Pinky: What are we going to do tomorrow, Brain?
Brain: Same thing we do every day. Try to conquer the world!

I loved that end line. :-D

codepoke said...

Why did they have to resort to chance and why aren't we? I gotta get this checked out.

Do you remember the name of the guy they picked? Yeah. Most of us don't. It's not an example I want to follow. It did not seem to work all that well.

Indulge me as a recall the Familyhood Church in which I would have us choosing leaders.
I am always the uniformed (my euphemism for being ignorant :) :)
is there anything I need to know about Familyhood Church other than the fact that it is your blog's name?


I really, really want to see all the denominations closed. Before that can happen, we have to see every Christian fellowshipping with all the other Christians who live within 3 or 4 blocks of each other. I believe that a church should be the gathering of all the believers in a neighborhood - but much more than just Christians getting together for potlucks and bible studies.

fellowship with likeminded people
In the short-term, this may be fine but in the long run, we still need to open up to the others no matter how different we are but with the ability to listen and respect and most importantly when to shut up.


Amen!

That would be an important job for leaders. They should set the example by shutting up themselves!!!


God didn't require leaders to successfully run a business, but a household.
Excellent quote!


Agreed, so let me mention again that this is Ellen's quote - and a misquote at that. :-( But it's the pretty close to the idea. Thanks, Ellen!

Milly said...

Clue on Hermie: He wanted to be a dentist and hung out with a Red Nosed reindeer.

As for my CoC belief on Baptism. Here’s a shocker. . . hold on to your hats. It just doesn’t say in the Bible it’s a must. The thief on the cross wasn’t. Do I believe it’s best? Yepper, I do and my sprinkled children are taught by our church and us that it’s a good thing. So I’m praying that they too will get in. Jesus was Baptized and what’s good enough for Him is good enough for me.

Danny Kaye said...

Again, Codepoke. That thinking can only work on your side of the fence. I guarantee that if you were to come on over to the "Baptism for the forgiveness of sins" camp, you would then have a hard time with the things you now consider to be okay.

However, let me set the record straight on something. I will never ever say that someone who is not baptized cannot love the Lord as much or more than I do.

WARNING! ANALOGY WITH LOTS OF HOLES COMING UP:
Two college room mates (you and I) can love the same woman. I can observe your courtship of the woman and learn how to love and respect her better. But only one of us is going to end up her husband...the one who is standing next to her on her wedding day. After that point, we may both love her, but only the one who has gone through the act of being joined together in wedlock will be married to her.

Codepoke, I have no doubt in my mind that you love God. I would imagine that if I could imitate you in many, many areas of life, I would be much better for it.
Please know, also, that I do not fellowship with you guardedly. I do not hold back my thoughts and feelings, or even my emotions when talking with you. And I don't hold back on agreements or disagreements either. I feel very free to fellowship with you. I say to you the same things I would say to any of my closest friends in my local congregations.
At one time (1987-2001A) I would have been guarded. But now(2001B-present) I am very vulnerable with those that love the Lord, even when we disagree on the basics.

Danny Kaye said...

Milly,
There is a good reason that the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus had not yet died and gone back to heaven. How many times in the gospels do we read Jesus saying "Your sins are forgiven" or some variation of that.
While He was on earth, the Son of man had authority to forgive sins. Baptism for the forgiveness of sins was taught for the first time in Acts 2:38 where it does say that every one of us must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Milly said...

danny,
I believe that it is necessity be Baptized. Yet (this is difficult to explain) I know that others don’t believe that way. God hasn’t put in on their hearts. I am not the judge. I would love to see one of you guys present it. It’s a hot topic and I just can’t do it on my blog. I’m not convened that it’s the only way. I know I sound wishy washy I done the study and I’ve spoken to elders and theologians. I know what God wanted me to do so I did it.

codepoke said...

Danny Kaye,

How does this sound? Give me a week or so to settle in, and bring baptismal remission up on your blog if you'd like to talk it through.

I guarantee that if you were to come on over to the "Baptism for the forgiveness of sins" camp, you would then have a hard time with the things you now consider to be okay.

I will collect on your guarantee payout. I used to hold to some doctrines to a degree that forced me to exclude others. When I grasped that my doctrines had separated me from people who were not separated from Christ, I searched out where my doctrine was wrong - and it was wrong.

Are you joined to The Vine? Do you bear fruit? Do you know the Risen Lord? I will not separate from you over my questionable doctrines.